Head and Tail Bands, (H & T bands) sometimes called just head bands or head & foot bands, are a decorative feature available in a few standard colors at Marathon. H & T bands are applied by hand in the bindery after binding, and before case-in of the book. Head & Tail Bands are typically only used as an option on books 1/2″ thickness or greater.
In the early times of book printing, it has been told to me that head and tail bands performed more of a function and were sewn in by thread into the spine of the book. The purpose was to keep mice from nibbling on the glue at the top or bottom of a book as it sat on the shelf, others have said it was to keep out duest whioch would create mold on the spine edge of the books. There may have been other reasons, that’s just the stories I have been told.
Nowadays, Head & Tail Bands are purely a decorative option. Being that head and tail bands are a non essential feature, it comes down to subjective design decisions and cost. Some books clearly may not need these, while adding this feature creates more perceived value and distinctiveness.
Hope you have found this short explanation helpful. If you are looking for ways to jazz up the design on your next book printing, we should talk!